Who Watches the Watchmen?

Another week, another 5000m. This time, the race was in London. The goal was simple: break 17 minutes. Unlike last week where the goal was to win or place in the top three, this time I decided that I would run for time, setting myself up with a good 3k split and simply see where it took me. My mantra for the night was the Mythbusters credo: “failure is always an option.” This may sound demoralizing, but to me it meant that I would rather split 10-flat for 3k and blow up than run another 17:12 with even splits. Furthermore, since I had already qualified for the Canadian championships in the 5000m through the national qualifier, it wouldn’t matter if I failed miserably in London.

Initially, the day wasn’t looking very promising, largely due to a few stupid mistakes I made. I was carrying the idiot ball, so to speak. I went for my morning five-miler at about 11 am, at which point it was fairly hot and humid in Markham. Following the run, I somehow forgot to drink any water. In fact, the only liquid I consumed before I got to the track was a cup of tea at about 4 pm. During the car trip over to London, I conveniently left my water bottle in a cooler in the trunk. I arrived at the track with a headache. To top off my idiocy, I had removed the small container of Advil (which I usually bring everywhere with me) from my bag, thinking “oh, I won’t need this,” while packing in the morning. Once I arrived at the race, I made sure to drink some water and sit in the shade until I needed to warm up, in hopes of curing the headache or at least prevent it from getting worse. My legs felt great on the warm up and it was starting to cool off as my race drew closer. Thankfully, my headache didn’t affect my race, but it had me worried while I was running strides and I felt it pounding each time my foot hit the ground. Perhaps, gentle readers, you may be asking why I am including these details. Well, I figure that maybe one out of my three readers might find my stupidity amusing.

I was a little smarter during the race itself. My plan was to stick with Speed River runner Courtney Laurie, who was also aiming for 17 flat. Courtney went out quickly, about 77 for the first lap, so I held off and let her gap me instead of hopping on to her pace. After the first lap, she settled into 80-second laps, though she still had about a seven-meter gap on me. Followed, trying to reel her in slowly or at least make sure the gap didn’t get any bigger. We clicked off 80-second laps until about 2.5 km, at which point I sensed that Courtney was starting to slow. Over the next lap, I made up the gap between us and took the lead, trying to get back on 80-second pace. I went through the 3k mark in about 10:04, which was about what I wanted the split to be. (Remember when I ran 10:03 back on June 2nd and I said that later in the summer, I would split that for 3k en route to 5k? Well, I did.) I started to hurt and went into survival mode for the next few laps, slipping to 82s or so. There was a moment of panic at 600m to go when I saw the clock was at 14:59 when I passed. I was coherent enough at this point to realize that I needed to get back on 80-second pace in order to break 17. I surged a little and tried to push hard for the last lap and a half. I must have closed pretty well, since my final time was 16:55.57. The last 2k of the race was pretty rough, especially since I had to run it on my own (not to mention the fact that I did the first half of the race at 16:40 pace).

After the race, I attended a London Runner Distance Club social, where we consumed post-race recovery foods and beverages (burgers and beer!) Steve Weiler owns Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut, so I forced everyone to watch that. Until Saturday, I wasn’t aware that there was an even more complete edition of Watchmen than the director’s cut. The “ultimate cut” contains the “Tales of the Black Freighter” story within the movie. It was cool to see everything together in one movie (I own Watchmen and Tales of the Black Freighter on two separate DVDs), but I believe this might be another instance in which the movie falls short of the comic. Granted, this notion is based on my half-drunken observations while watching this movie from about 2 until 6 am, so I might be way off. Watchmen, in addition to being a great story, pushed the boundaries of what was possible within the medium of comic books (that’s medium, not genre, kids). The story-within-a-story “Tales of the Black Freighter” is a great example of this, because it was integrated so well with the overall narrative. The story goes back and forth between the comic and reality, but dialogue and narration will spill over from one to the other. Take this as an example. Unfortunately, the Tales of the Black Freighter story in the movie is told in larger chunks, making the transition from the overall story to the comic within the story jarring at times. Nevertheless, the two stories parallel each other and the inclusion of the comic still enhances the movie to a certain extent. I love the movie Watchmen, but again, the comic showed what was possible within the medium, doing things that perhaps can’t be transferred to the big screen.

In any case, it was fun to watch the movie while talking running, movies, and music with Steve and Rob Kitz. I apologize to anyone who started reading about my race but ended up reading my ramblings on Watchmen. But frankly, the title should have been warning enough.

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